“The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.” Psalm 77:18
I love thunderstorms…especially after dark, when lightning illuminates our mountains and thunder echoes hollowly in the treetops. Just beautiful.
Of course, I prefer to be indoors while enjoying them. But I’ve been outside before and very close to lightning a bunch of times. It’s even more dazzling and awe-inspiring to witness God’s power when you’re exposed to His elements.
While hiking on the Appalachian Trail with our mini-schnauzer Darcy a few years ago, my husband and I got caught in an unexpected cloudburst. Lightning danced around us in the trees, and we were completely drenched in mere minutes. (That memorable hike also included encounters with a coiled copperhead snake and a very large tick—I’m not sure which one I loathed more.) Poor Darcy, normally a happy hiker, couldn’t figure out why we were torturing her with this “fun” trek. We prayed for safe return, and God answered our prayers.
Like Job, I marvel at God’s handiwork and power in storms. “Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, the thunder from His canopy?” (Job 36:29) Meteorologists could study them forever without fully grasping the magnitude of sky-wide wonders.
These cosmic events are reminders of His presence, His strength, His sovereignty over creation, and even His provision. Rainstorms bring much-needed rain for fresh water and agriculture; lightning adds nitrogen/nitrates for plant growth.
Thunderstorms don’t frighten me. I don’t plan to hold up a metal rod in an open field if I’m caught in a tempest, and I do plan to seek shelter during real tornadoes. But typically, I’m happy during storms. People who dread thunder and lightning have “astraphobia,” an irrational or disproportionate fear of storms. The Weather Channel fuels the fire, counting on meteorological drama to sell ads.
Animals, too, can sometimes react with fear. Marketers sell compression “thunder shirts” for pets to help calm their distress; there’s even been talk of making thunder shirts for people.
The storms, however, that brew in our countries, cities, homes, and hearts are another matter.
King David faced oppressive enemies and lamented their evil in bringing wrath and trouble upon him. He describes their violence as a “windy storm and tempest” (Psalm 55:8).
Storms of life are all around us. As I write, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is sending case figures and hospitalizations soaring again in the United States. Political foes continue to wage bitter wars in the media, militant groups threaten Middle East countries, crime is on the rise in some areas, and the list goes on. Our own mistakes, sinful nature, and failures chase us like thunderhead clouds.
These storms are plenty scary. So where do we go for comfort?
As Christians, we can take our fears, problems, sins, and yes, storms, to the Lord of Hosts. We can run to Him immediately in prayer, especially through reading the Psalms—they are brimming with descriptions of God as our refuge and fortress.
Imagine yourself in a severe storm, tossed about in a tiny boat on a vast ocean. Lightning and thunder crash and explode around you. Then, in the midst of this maelstrom, you cry out, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
That’s exactly what happened when Jesus and His disciples were sailing across the sea of Galilee. Jesus slept calmly in the boat while His friends panicked. Can you hear the comfort in His voice in His response? “But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’” (Matthew 8:26-27)
When you’re enveloped in fear or caught in a tumultuous storm, remember that your eternal shelter is with Jesus Christ. Let the One who calmed the winds and waves, who astonished His friends with cosmic power, be the One who rescues you today. You can weather the storms with Him…and perhaps be privileged to see their beauty.
Lord, Creator of the heavens and the earth, guard our homes and hearts when we encounter storms in our lives, the enemies who threaten us. Be our refuge and shelter, our tower of defense when we are under attack. Thank You for Your everlasting promises, Your love, and Your strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.